Today, this briefing note is put to you the 'National Taskforce on Environmental Science and Sustainable Development' in response to Urbanisation and its effects on Australias’ waterways. This is fast becoming a critical environmental issue affecting Australia.
It has long been known that plants act as a natural filter of water, removing all the properties that would harm the creatures that ingest it. A key issue facing developers today is an expanding population. With expanding urban sprawl vastly affecting the green space urban development, strategies continue to focus on removing the encroachment of land as a development strategy and going ‘up’. This essay will focus on the eutrophication of waterways within Australia and in particular how urbanisation is affecting those waterways. This is a complex issue and although this essay will be examining Urbanisation in particular, it does not mean that further areas such as; mining, farming, waste management should not be investigated further. It is trusted that by the end of this essay the reader will have an understanding of what eutrophication is; How human activities play a role; and how urbanisation planning can be improved, in order to protect Australia’s waterways.
Eutrophication is the process “by which a body of water acquires a high concentration of nutrients, especially phosphates and nitrates. These typically promote excessive growth of algae. As the algae dies and decomposes, high levels of organic matter and the decomposing organisms deplete the water of available oxygen, causing the death of other organisms, such as fish. Eutrophication is a natural, slow-aging process for a water body, but human activity greatly speeds up that process.” - Art, 1993.
The ‘nutrients’ that are referred to in the process of eutrophication include Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorous (P), which are essentially elements that all plant life require in order to survive. Nitrogen will exist in waterways as both an organic and inorganic compound. Dissolved organic nitrogen is found in a wide range of complex chemical forms such as amino acids, proteins, urea and humic acids. Ammonium is the form of nitrogen taken up most readily by phytoplankton because nitrate must first be reduced to ammonia before it is assimilated as amino acids in organisms (Geoscience Australia, 2013). The excessive level of certain nutrients in waterways is often linked to human activities.
A comprehensive investigation on how nutrients in waterways were increasing, was undertaken by a body of individual scientists and their findings were as follows;
- Run-off from agricultural areas;
- Storm water and wastewater;
- Turbidity and nutrient levels occur within Australia’s river systems, generally coincide in Australia's river systems. A large proportion of the suspended sediment in Australian rivers results from vegetation removal, leading to gully and stream bank erosion and sheetwash. Phosphorus is overwhelmingly associated with such...